2015-05-06 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

City’s New Cultural Plan

Dear Friends,

Yesterday was a historic day in our city. The New York City Council unanimously passed Introduction 419 which will initiate – for the first time in the City of New York – the development of a comprehensive Cultural Plan.

Culture is the lifeblood of our city. It inspires us. It teaches us. It engages us. It binds us as one. And it drives our economy and feeds our collective soul. The Cultural Plan will empower artists and engage the cultural community. In doing so it will increase access, equity and opportunity so that all New Yorkers have the arts and culture present in their lives.

For nearly three years Councilmember Steve Levin and I have fought alongside many in the cultural community to promote the passage of this bill. As a result of this victory the City of New York, the cultural capital of the world, will devise and implement a plan to ensure children and families in every corner of our city are afforded better access to culture and the arts. We will all be better as a result.

I salute Councilmember Levin, his staff, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, his team, the cultural and creative community, as well as the staff of my Cultural Affairs Committee and my City Council office for their tireless efforts.

Today we celebrate you and everyone who helped make this day happen. Without you it would not have been possible!

Jimmy Van Bramer
New York City Council Majority Leader

Jamaica Ave. Thriving

To The Editor:

My name is Maria A. Thomson and I am the Executive Director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (WBID). I am responding to comments made in regard to stores on Woodhaven’s Jamaica Avenue. This is for your information.

It has been stated that the proliferation of delis, barber shops, nail salons, pharmacies, furniture stores and or medical / dental offices had indeed changed the appearance of our avenue from previous years. It is important for me to state to you that the Woodhaven Business Improvement District has no control over what stores are rented by the building owners that come in to our community. It is up to the potential store owner to determine whether he/she can do business in the community and up to the landlord to rent it to these stores. These potential stores and landlords have no obligation to come to the Woodhaven Business Improvement District in regard to any of their decisions. Also, if the Woodhaven Business Improvement District stated that they did not want an additional deli or 99-cent store they could be sued for restriction of trade. Since this is the case, all we can do is try to solicit different stores and invite them to come to our shopping strip. We, through our office, try to entice a variety of stores to come here and once the stores are here we are very watchful as to how they do business and if we do have complaints, consumer affairs, etc., we do address them. It is unfortunate that we cannot limit the type of stores that we have, but this is beyond our control.

What I’d like to bring to your attention is the fact that we have five banks, an award store that makes plaques and trophies, excellent bakeries, a spa, a new bicycle shop that recently opened, a catering hall, a driving school, excellent doctors, dentists and a therapy / medical office, an orthopedic shoe store, an upholstery store, a printer, restaurants, a pet store, a veterinarian, and big general stores and supermarkets. These stores are all among over 300 stores on our avenue. All of these individuals are professional and experienced in their services and their products. The WBID thinks of Woodhaven as still a smalltown community in a big city that has come through many years, some dark and foreboding, with dirty streets and graffiti-marked storefronts and I’m sure that your mother and/or father remembers those “bad old days.” We are now a well-lit community with cleaned streets, limited graffiti and vandalism, and instead sporting Christmas lights, and many promotional activities for our children and adults. Only in Woodhaven will you find a free trolley car riding along Jamaica Avenue for your shopping convenience, and two-hour parking on Jamaica Avenue. As we all know it could be better, and our organizations, the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation and Woodhaven Business Improvement District strive constantly to make it better. Please do not hesitate to comment and feel free to call our office at 718- 805-0202. You can also like us on Facebook, at Facebook.com/woodhavenbid or email us at Gwdcbid@hotmail.com.

Maria A. Thomson
Executive Director
Greater Woodhaven Development
Corporation; Woodhaven Business
Improvement District

I Still Remember Mama

A submission from 2011 revisited by the author: To The Editor:

Mother’s Day will be soon upon us and I find myself reflecting about my Mother, as I know a lot of us are doing as well. I have found myself thinking about my youth, growing up in Queens Village in the ‘50s and ‘60s. We lived in a corner house on 213th Street with my Father and two blind elderly boarders my Mother took care of and whom we all treated as family. The old neighborhood has changed a lot and many have moved or passed on. The stores have changed and names have changed as well.

I remember on a spring day my Mother would be tending to her roses and her vegetable garden that she gave as much care and love as she did her family, not unlike what most mothers do today. I remember playing with the kids on the block, where we played hopscotch, hide-and-seek, stick-ball, and Chinese jump rope or maybe rode our bikes on many adventures. There were stores where my Mother would send me on errands over on 99th Avenue, which was only two blocks away. There was Yugo’s Deli and Scotty’s Variety Store and lunch counter where you could get breakfast and lunch, buy the newspaper and favorite candy and action comic books. I also remember Schaefer’s Malt Shop on 212th Street and Jamaica Avenue, that was run by a German family who made the best ice cream cake around for all occasions. Also, I remember when I was younger my Mother would take me by the hand and would go in there if I was good. I remember my Mother trying to impress on me the importance of respect for all those I would meet and to show kindness even if they don’t do so in return.

My Mother also did a lot of charity work for the church and the community. She also went around collecting funds for Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Foundation and for cancer care. I once asked her why she did so much. She said it was because the Lord has given us so much and she needed to give something back. I guess it kind of rubbed off on me. For today, I am Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus in Douglaston and am active at St. Anastasia Parish. I’m involved also in a lot of charity work as well even though I work six days a week. I am asked the same question and I do respond that it is because it is the right thing to do. I have never forgotten what my Mother taught me and always try in life to do what she had asked.

Back then, toward the end of day, usually around six o’clock, I remember my Mother stepping out on the stoop and yelling out my name, “Freddie, dinner time!” It seemed this scene would echo up and down the block as other mothers would be doing the same. Mothers, I think, tried to keep families on an even keel, just like today. I also remember Sunday, which was a little different back then, where whole families, no matter what your faith, would all get dressed up and go to our respective houses of worship and that scene took place all over Queens Village. I guess it was like the old saying, “A family that prays together stays together.” Well I think it did work for all concerned. As we approach Mother’s Day many of us will be thinking of our mothers on this special day, but maybe we should all be thinking of our mothers 365 days of the year and thank them for all they have done for us. Like my Father said to me when my Mother passed away when I was 14, “Never forget your Mother.” Well I never did. Now mothers everywhere let me say, “Happy Mother’s Day.” And to my Mother, Teresa Alice Bedell, who gave me so much love, thank you for helping me be all that I am today.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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